The horns could be heard miles away while the signs were in your face. And the staff at Major Health Partners Medical Center could not have been more grateful for the show of support.
An organized event Saturday night brought approximately 100 cars to the MHP Medical Center parking lot carrying signs of support for all health care workers but, specifically, those at the local hospital treating patients with COVID-19. At 7 p.m., the car horns started blaring and people started clapping and yelling support for the MHP staff that made their way outside the facility. That lasted for nearly 10 minutes before a parade of cars was organized to drive by the staff, wave, display signs and offer words of encouragement.
“This is very special. It brings tears to my eyes,” said Mindy Endsley, a registered nurse in the Emergency Room. “I can’t believe how much community support we’ve gotten during this time. It’s amazing to see. They are saying, ‘I love you. Thank you. They are praying for you.’ It is just amazing.”
The first-of-its-kind event in Shelby County was given special clearance by Mayor Tom DeBaun and the hospital’s administration. Everyone in attendance was reminded to stay in their cars and not mingle with others in attendance.
As of Friday afternoon, MHP was at just over half capacity in terms of inpatients. And the number of emergency room patients over a 24-hour span was 40 – less than usual, according to Endsley.
“We’ve only been averaging about 40 patients a day ... normal is in the 80s,” said Endsley. “People are doing what they are supposed to do – stay home. We hope they continue to do that so we don’t get overwhelmed.”
Social distancing, only traveling out when necessary and staying six feet from the nearest person – is considered the best weapon against the novel coronavirus at this time. To help limit exposure at the hospital, MHP has a Priority Care clinic at 30 W. Rampart Road that saw 21 patients Thursday and 15 Friday. There also is the Washington St. Clinic that saw 21 patients Thursday and 18 Friday.
In you are feeling ill and unsure where to go for treatment, call 317-392-DOCS.
“The amount of numbers we’re seeing in New York and Seattle is scary and to think it could come in our direction in Shelbyville, Indiana,” said Natasha Ogden, also a nurse in the Emergency Room at MHP Medical Center, who is afraid for her 6-year-old daughter, husband and his parents. “I am afraid to bring it home to them and to my elderly in-laws that are already at a higher risk.”
Ogden, like all health care workers, is taking extra precautions after a shift ends.
“I change my clothing here at work, go home and get straight in the shower ... and then give my daughter a hug,” she said. “That is so hard because she is still standing at the door going, ‘Mommy, Mommy!’”
While both Endsley and Ogden feel safe in their working environment, they too, like many, are struggling to find cleaning supplies for their homes.
Hospitals train for all kinds of scenarios, including mass casualty events, but COVID-19, a worldwide pandemic, has added a new real-life element to their training – stress.
“We get so many emails everyday and every hour things change so it’s hard to keep up with what we’re supposed to be doing,” said Endsley. “It feels like we’re not getting a break from this. We’re eating, we’re living, we’re sleeping ... well I’m not sleeping as much. We’re up logging onto the computer to see how many cases do we have now? What is the census like? Is tonight going to be the surge? Waiting is the scariest part.”
“We’re built to expect the unexpected but this is definitely beyond what we ever anticipated,” said Ogden. “We get emergencies 24-7 but this is a completely different emergency.”
Unlike stories that are unfolding of hospitals struggling to get necessary supplies, Endsley is thankful that the administration at MHP is working hard to keep its staff protected.
“I read an article on WTHR about a nurse that posted on Facebook working at Community North (in Indianapolis) that they don’t have the proper PPE (personal protective equipment),” she said. “I feel very blessed to be at Major Hospital. Our administrators have been trying hard to get supplies in. I feel at this point we have the appropriate supplies to do my job.”